Aconceveibum trinerve Miq.
Croton coccineus Vahl
Croton distans Wall.
Croton laurifolius Noronha
Croton montanus Willd.
Croton philippensis Lam.
Croton punctatus Retz.
Echinus philippensis (Lam.) Baill.
Macaranga stricta (Rchb.f. & Zoll.) Müll.Arg.
Mallotus bicarpellatus T.Kuros.
Mallotus reticulates Dunn
Mappa stricta Rchb.f. & Zoll.
Rottlera affinis Hassk.
Rottlera aurantiaca Hook. & Arn.
Rottlera philippensis (Lam.) Scheff.
Rottlera tinctoria Roxb.
Tanarius strictus (Rchb.f. & Zoll.) Kuntze
Common Name: Kamala
Kamala is an evergreen tree, growing up to 25 metres tall. It has a short, and often fluted bole that can be up to 50cm in diameter, but is usually much less[
The source of kamala powder, widely used in Asia as a dye and medicine, the plant also provides a useful timber, oil and tannins. The tree has been cultivated experimentally in Nepal because of the endangered stands of this tree, and was formerly cultivated in Cameroon and Madagascar[
]. It is grown as an ornamental, being valued especially for its red fruits[
Rottlerin, a substance found in kamala powder, has been show to affect the fertility of female rats and guinea pigs, and is reportedly toxic to frogs, worms, and some fish species[
]. In overdoses it causes nausea in humans[
The seeds are reported to contain a toxic glycoside[
The roots, stems and leaves contain hydrogen cyanide, a poisonous acid[
In Sumatra the plant is employed as a fish poison[
E. Asia - China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines to Australia and the Solomon Isles.
Common in evergreen forest, especially in secondary forest, and sometimes even dominant in the undergrowth. It also occurs in scrubby vegetations and on open rocky ground[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
A plant of lower elevations in the tropics, where it can be found from sea level to 1,600 metres[
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 25 - 34°c, but can tolerate 7 - 45°c[
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -2°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at 0°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 600 - 5,000mm[
Succeeds in full sun[
], but plants can also tolerate considerable shade[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.7, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
The growth is comparatively slow - mean annual girth increment being reported in India at 0.65 cm, with a mean girth after 16 years of less than 15 cm[
Kamala powder, obtained from the skins of the fruits, is used as a preservative for vegetable oils and dairy products[
]. Although toxic, it is said to be safe when used in this way[
]. Kamala also recorded to be used as a dye for food-stuffs and beverages, which seems unlikely because it is generally known as a purgative[
The oil from the seed is used for colouring foodstuffs and beverages[
Kamala powder, obtained from the skins of the fruits, is used as anthelmintic[
]. The active compound is rottlerin[
]. Rottlerin has been show to affect the fertility of female rats and guinea pigs, and is reportedly toxic to frogs, worms, and some fish species[
]. In overdoses it causes nausea in humans[
All parts of the tree can be applied externally to treat parasitic infections of the skin[
The fruits and bark have been reported to be used medicinally to treat stomach ulcers and tapeworm[
A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of diarrhoea[
Root scrapings are chewed with a betel mixture as a contraceptive for women[
A pioneer species, it is often gregarious and precedes the appearance of sal tree, for which it prepares a 'nursery' by killing off grasses[
]. The tree is considered to be a valuable nurse tree for more important forest tree species such as sal (Shorea robusta)[
The glandular hairs that cover the ripe fruits contain a pigment that is the source of kamala powder or kamala dye, which is used for dyeing wool and silk bright orange[
The dye is insoluble in cold water and slightly soluble in boiling water, but it is freely soluble and forms deep red solutions in alcohol, ether and alkalis[
]. The principal colouring substances are rottlerin (C30H28O8), crystallizing in salmon-coloured needles or plates, and its yellow isomer, isorottlerin, which together constitute about 11% of the weight of the kamala powder of ripe fruits[
]. Other substances of the dye are resins (ca. 65%), wax (ca. 2%), and small amounts of the pigments 4-hydroxyrottlerin and 3,4-dihydroxyrottlerin, volatile oil, citric and oxalic acid, tannin, and gum[
A red dye has been extracted from the roots[
The fibrous bark is used to make rope and artificial fur[
The seeds yield about 35% of a quick-drying oil[
]. Known as 'kamala seed oil', it can be used as a substitute for tung oil, obtained from Aleurites spp., in the production of rapid-drying paints and varnishes[
]. The oil is also used as a fixative in cosmetic preparations and for colouring foodstuffs and beverages[
The bark contains 6 - 10% tannin, the leaves contain a smaller amount[
The heartwood is pink to brown-coloured; the sapwood is cream[
]. The wood is whitish to pale reddish-grey, often with darker streaks, and fairly close and straight-grained[
]. It is hard and moderately heavy[
]. It is used for rafters, tool handles, matchboxes, and house-posts.[
The wood is suitable for paper pulp[
The wood is often used as fuel wood[
Seed - fairly easily propagated by seeds sown at the beginning of the rainy season in a seed bed in a nursery[
]. As the germination rate is often poor (for example, because of drought and insect attack) it is advisable to sow close, about 5 cm apart, and to thin out later[
]. About 5% germination can be expected in 65 - 82 days[
Dried seeds can be stored in gunny bags or in tins in a dry place for about 6 months without losing viability[